Tales of a Night Walker
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter 19

The night passed slowly.  The three of us spent time playing cards and
watching television.  Finally Kelly began to fade and fell asleep on the
bed.  I got up and walked over to the overstuffed chair where Jeff was
sitting, and climbed into his lap.  I couldn't help but stifle a yawn.
"You should be asleep," my lover said.

"Who can sleep at a time like this?" I asked through another yawn.

"Apparently you fragile humans," Jeff chuckled and then picked me up and
carried me to the bed, laying me down carefully beside Kelly.  I tried to
protest, but the minute my body touched the soft mattress, I was gone.  It
seemed like I had barely fallen asleep when Jeff was gently shaking me.
"Come on, love.  Time to get up."

I sat up and looked around.  Kelly was nowhere to be seen.  "What time is
it?" I asked.

"It's about 5:00.  We need to be moving."

"Where's Kelly?" I asked.

"Right here," she said stepping out of the bathroom.  She had taken a
shower and redressed.  "So what's the plan for today?"

"Well, Armand and Father will both have to be somewhere in the dark at
sunrise.  Meanwhile we are going back to Auburn and the theatre."

"And how are we going to do that," I asked.

"I'm sure they are out there waiting for us, hoping we will try to make a
break for it before dawn," Jeff said.  "But we'll wait until the absolute
last minute.  They will have to find somewhere else to be.  As soon as the
sun comes up, Kelly, you drive your station wagon up to the front and we'll
jump in it.  Keep me under the blankets in the back and drive like hell
back to Auburn.  Then we head into the theatre where it's nice and dark for
me.  That way I'll be there for the brush up rehearsal tonight.  Armand and
Father will meanwhile come back here tonight thinking we are still in the
hotel."

"It's not good, but it's a plan," Kelly said thoughtfully.

"You don't think Armand and your father will notice that Kelly's car is
missing when they get back here tonight?" I asked.

"Well, maybe, but by the time they would get back to Auburn we'll be in the
middle of rehearsal surrounded by a lot of other visible people not to
mention Harriet's police squad.  If you can make sure the doors stay
locked, we might be okay for a while.  Then after rehearsal I can do
something about them."

"What?" I demanded.  "What can you do about them?"

"I haven't got that part of the plan figured out yet," Jeff said.

We prepared for the morning, packing a few things to take along, including
the cooler of blood which seemed to be getting dangerously low with only
two bottles left.  We then waited as it grew lighter outside the windows.
At the last possible minute we went downstairs and checked out of the
hotel.  I went outside with Kelly to get the station wagon.  The sun was
just peaking up over the horizon and we saw no evidence of anyone hanging
around the parking lot.  She drove to the hotel, pulling under the canopy
in front of the main entrance and I had the blankets ready in the back.  We
went inside and picked up our luggage, taking it out to the car while Jeff
waited nervously in the lobby.  I stepped back into the hotel in time to
see a man striding purposely toward Jeff.  "Jeff, look out," I shouted.

Jeff turned to see Armand crossing the room toward him.  He turned and
bolted for the doors.  I opened them and we both made a dash to the car,
Jeff sliding into the back as I jumped into the front seat beside Kelly
urging her to go.  She peeled out and I leaned over the seat to try and
quickly cover Jeff with two heavy blankets, tucking them in so he was
completely buried.  I looked up to see Armond standing in the glass doors,
unable to follow us because of the sunlight shining down on the pavement.
"That was close," I said, "but at least we are away from them and they are
trapped in the hotel for the day."  As we drove the 20 minute drive to the
theater I asked, "You doing okay?"

"Yes," came a muffled reply from under the covers in the back, but I could
smell that burnt caramel aroma and knew he wasn't as okay as he said.

"Hurry," I urged and Kelly increased the speed.  At this time of day I was
praying there weren't any cops.

In what was only about fourteen minutes, we pulled up in front of the
theater.  I grabbed my keys and ran for the front door while Kelly drove
around to the back loading dock where we took in scenery and supplies.  It
had a large garage door that lead directly to the scene shop, and better
still; it was on the shady side of the building.  I entered through the
lobby, went quickly backstage and into the scene shop.  Everything was
dark.  I had to flip on a few lights so I could find my way.  Getting to
the garage door, I opened it and found the station wagon just pulling up.
I jumped off the dock and opened the back door to her station wagon,
helping my lover out of the back.  He climbed out of the car and more or
less fell onto the loading dock of the scene shop.  Kelly came around and
helped me push him into the scene shop where I could pull the garage door
shut.

Jeff was lying on the floor breathing heavily.  "You don't look so good,"
Kelly said.

"For the record," he said between gasps, "that wasn't such a good plan.  I
don't think a 20 minute ride in the full sun even under blankets, is a good
idea."

"Well, we got you here.  Now what?"

"Blood," he said as he tried to sit up.  Ever prepared, Kelly handed him a
bottle from the cooler she dragged in.  He quickly downed it, and then
slowly got to his feet.  "I think I'd like to take a nice cold shower," he
said and I helped him back through the scene shop and downstairs.  There
was a shower just off the men's dressing room.

Kelly went out around noon to pick up lunch for the humans and Jeff joined
us when she returned.  He had taken a nap and had the last of the pig's
blood, and was now looking much better.  After lunch Kelly pulled out her
tarot cards and volunteered to do readings for us.  I was again skeptical,
but Jeff took the cards and began shuffling them.  "I knew a witch some
time ago," he said as he handed the cards back to Kelly.  "She was the one
who told me to come here."

"She told you to come to Auburn?" I asked skeptically.

"Yes, she was very specific.  She said I would find my destiny here."

"And you found Frank," Kelly said smiling at me.

"I've never been anyone's destiny before," I joked.

"So what happened to her?" Kelly asked, sensing a story there.

Jeff seemed to grow very sad.  "She passed on," he said.

"Unfortunately that's the nature of humanity," Kelly said.

"And pointing out that I am not human," Jeff responded.

"Well I, for one, am glad," I replied.  "Who wants a lousy old human for a
lover?" I asked.

"I do," Jeff and Kelly both said at the same time, and then laughed.

Jeff handed the cards to Kelly and she spread them out on table in the
green room.  "Oh, this looks good," she said.  "You will triumph over your
adversity.  But you will experience a time of loss and sadness."

"Appropriately vague," I said as I looked at the colorful cards.  "What
about me?"

Kelly scooped up the cards and handed them to me.  I shuffled and she
spread them out, turning them over one by one.  "That's odd," she said.

"What is it?" I asked, trying to make some sense out of the little pictures
displayed on the table.

"Everything seems to cancel everything else out.  There is intense
happiness balanced with separation and sorrow.  But the way it balances
it's almost as if you don't have a future."

"That doesn't sound good," I replied.  "Thank you, scary witch lady."

"Well, I wouldn't make too much out of it," Kelly said.  "I'm not as good
with my cars as I am with my crystal."

We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting and chatting.  Jeff told us
stories from his childhood in Virginia.  I was amazed at the thought of
living in a mansion without indoor plumbing or central air conditioning or
electricity.  I could appreciate his culture shock coming to the twentieth
century.

Around 6:00 p.m. I heard sounds and realized others were arriving for
rehearsals.  Harriet walked into the green room to find the three of us
relaxing together and chatting about the show.  "What are you three doing
here?" she asked.

"We have a rehearsal tonight," I replied innocently.

"Yes I know you have a rehearsal tonight.  That's why I'm here.  I've been
trying to call you all day."

"I was out," I said shortly, her attitude beginning to annoy me.

"Well, the police are upstairs.  They will be watching the rehearsal, one
from backstage and one from in the house.  They think if anyone is going to
attack another of our company, tonight would be a good time to do that.
They are searching everyone who comes in and apparently you three managed
to bypass that."

"You want us to go up now and get searched?" Kelly asked happily.

"Don't bother," Harriet growled and went stalking off.

"I guess we better get to work," I suggested, and the three of us got up
and headed upstairs to the auditorium.  I met with the cast and reminded
them of the minor changes we were doing.  I then reminded them that I would
be their stage manager and I appreciated their assistance during the
performance.  If there is anything I was missing, I asked them to please
inform me.  I then suggested they get into costume.  That was met with
several groans and complaints.

"We're just doing this to keep our lines fresh.  Why do we have to get into
costume?  It's not like anyone has any quick or difficult changes," Kelly
said.

"Okay, you win," I agreed.  "We'll just run the show with lines and action,
no costumes or make up.  But I do want props.  I want to see the actual
sword fight to make sure all the movement is there.  And we have to do
lights and sound so I can be sure I have all the cues.  Now everyone get in
place and well take it in about ten minutes."

The cast all moved to find their places and check their props.  The tech
crew found their stations and the lighting guys moved the lights into the
preset while the curtain was lowered.  I gave the opening cues and the
house lights faded, the stage lights came up and the curtain rose into the
fly gallery.  Several of the actors stepped out onto the elevated wooden
platform that was built to look like the castle battlements and the show
began.  Everything went smoothly until the death scene of Polonius.  He was
hidden behind the curtain and Hamlet was supposed to run him through with
his sword.  Jeff picked up the sword and stabbed the curtain which slowly
turned read with the fake blood that the tech crew sprayed at it from the
back side, and then the actor playing Polonius fell through the curtain
onto the stage.  Jeff reacted in surprise as the character was supposed to,
but what surprised us even more was the sound of laughter coming from the
wings.  I looked up angrily to see what actor had ruined the scene by
laughing.  To my surprise a stranger stepped out from off stage left
opposite from where I sat.  I recognized him as the man who had locked us
up in the cage several nights ago and tried to catch us just this morning,
Armand.

"That was totally amusing and not very believable.  Shall we show them how
it is really done, Jefferson?"

"Armand!" Jeff shouted he started toward the vampire, but Armand was faster
and ran to the edge of the stage, leaping off.  He easily cleared the
orchestra pit and raced up the center aisle of the house moving so quickly
he seemed to blur.  Jeff immediately took off after him, jumping the
orchestra pit as well.  By this time I had stepped out onto the stage
watching them.  They almost disappeared as they moved so quickly through
the auditorium.  Harriet screamed and the two police who were in the
theatre came out to give chase, sensing something was amiss.  I realized my
cast had all come onto the stage to watch the drama unfolding in the house.

Armand leaped onto the arms of the seats, running across them as agilely as
a cat, then jumped up, catching the overhang where the light booth jutted
out into the house from the second floor of the building at the back.  He
pulled himself up and made another daring leap, catching one of the beams
across the top the house and pulling himself into the light gallery in the
ceiling.  Jeff followed his actions, easily reaching the light booth and
then up into the gallery.  The police just stood looking in amazement, not
able to perform such acrobatics.  Harriet directed them sending one back to
the stage to climb the circular metal stairs up to the grid backstage while
the other cop ran to the back of the house, out into the lobby and up the
stairs to the light booth where a ladder lead into the light gallery over
the auditorium.

I quickly pointed the cop in the direction of the metal stairs, switching
on all the work lights, including the lights over the grid high above.  I
then ran to the edge of the stage to see if I could see the two vampires.
Armand ran along the light bridge over the house and opened the small door
that lead to the overhead backstage area and the ladder up to the grid.
Jeff followed quickly on his heels.  We all looked directly up into the fly
loft over the stage to see Armand climbing up to the metal grid, the
framework eighty feet over the stage that held the pulleys and cables which
attached to the ropes along the right hand wall to raise and lower scenery
and lights.  It was obvious to me that he was trying to make an escape
through the door onto the roof, where he had escaped before.  He was
probably leading Jeff into a trap.  No doubt Jeff's father was waiting
somewhere outside and Armand was going to lead my lover right to him.  But
Armand wasn't quite quick enough.  Jeff managed to grab his ankle as he
climbed off the ladder and onto the grid.  He fell onto the metal structure
with a loud thunk and sent clumps of dust raining down on the stage like
grey snow.

Jeff and Armand were now both on the grid, and wrestling among the pulleys
and cables.  One of the policemen was just now reaching the ladder up to
the grid from the light gallery and the other was still only partway up the
circular stairs.  I knew they wouldn't reach the two combatants before
either Armand made his getaway with Jeff following, or one of them was
seriously hurt.  My heart was in my throat at the thought of Jeff being
injured by the crazy vampire he was trying to stop.  The entire cast was
looking up, squinting into the lights trying to see what was happening.
One of the stage hands had at least had the sense to turn down the spot
lights over the stage so we could see the two bodies in silhouette
struggling so far above us.

One of them flipped the other and someone else landed with a loud metal
clang on the I-beams that made up the structure.  Then one of them began to
run and tripped over a cable, then slipped off the edge of the metal beams
to fall over the edge, catching the beam with a hand.  I heard a voice say,
"Give me your hand," and then a laugh as the dangling person let go to fall
the 80 feet to the stage floor.  Of course and 80 foot fall wouldn't hurt a
vampire.  He'd just land on his feet like a cat and be fine.  I wasn't sure
how we would explain that to the cops and the assembled crowd of actors and
technicians.  But the falling body didn't just hit the floor as I expected.
He hit a metal batton that was holding a drop, part of the scenery that
flew in during the show.  His body bounced off the long metal pole and
flipped over, to come down directly over part of the set, his weight
breaking the flat that made up the back of the castle wall, and the
splintered wood driving up through his body, impaling him on it.  For a
moment he struggled, and then he went limp, blood dripping down onto the
stage from the broken set piece of the castle battlements.  I was afraid to
look, but then I heard Jeff's voice, "Is anyone hurt?  Are you all safe?"
I knew then that it was Armand who had taken the plunge.

"What the fuck?" someone said.  I looked up to see the body impaled on the
broken set.  I long shaft of wood protruded out of its chest.  It looked
like it had shriveled up and shrunk in on itself, almost looking like a
mummy, the flesh growing grey and wrinkled right before our eyes.  It was
as if the many years had caught up with Armand.

I could hear the metal clanging as the policeman on the circular stairs
tried to hurry back down to the stage floor.  Meanwhile the cop climbed off
the ladder onto the grid to look down at the grizzly scene below.  Then
Jeff quickly grabbed the ladder and scurried back down, ducking through the
small door and making his way rapidly back to the light gallery.  While
everyone was examining the suspended body on the set, Jeff jumped from the
light gallery down to the auditorium floor, over a 30 foot drop.
Fortunately no one noticed his superhuman feat but me.  He then jumped up
onto the stage and quickly made it to my side.  "Are you alright?" he asked
putting his hands on my shoulders.  I just nodded, and gulped, feeling the
fear and tension easing in my chest.

"I take it this is our serial killer," the cop wheezed as he walked across
the stage to where Jeff and I were standing.

"Yes," Jeff said.  "His name was Armand DuBois.  He was from Virginia.  He
apparently had a grudge against me and was taking it out by killing the
people I cared about."

"What the hell is that?" the police officer said as he looked up at the
corpse.  "I've never seen a body do that."

"He had a degenerative disease," Jeff supplied.  "I guess it caught up with
him when he died."

"I'll say," the cop replied.  "He looks like he's a hundred years old."

"They're off by at least 70 years," Jeff whispered to me.

Eventually the other policeman made it to the stage and they called in the
situation.  The cast and crew had to sit quietly out in the auditorium
while the coroner and several other police detectives climbed all over the
set and managed to extricate what was left of the body.  "He won't come
back to life when they pull him off that stake, will he?" I asked
nervously.

"No," Jeff replied.  "Once the heart is pierced and held open, the body
will die a final death and then immediately start to decay.  I'm afraid
Armand is truly dead this time.  He's not coming back."

"What about your father?"

"I'm hoping once he hears what has happened to his henchman, he will think
twice about messing with me and he'll go back east."

We had to sit and wait for the police to interview everyone.  Jeff gave
them a story about how he met Armand back east and the man took an instant
dislike to him, becoming jealous of him over several things, such as money
and talent.  Jeff said he suspected that Armand was crazy, but didn't
really know how crazy until the man showed up here.  He didn't know it was
Armand doing the killings until he stepped out onto the stage tonight.  It
was a convincing lie and the cops seemed to accept it, closing the case on
the murders at the theater.  They were more amazed at the condition of
Armand's corpse than anything else, and that probably went a long way in
convincing them that he was the bad guy and Jeff was the innocent victim.
Besides, the one policeman who had made it almost to the grid could testify
that Jeff tried to reach Armand and help him back onto the grid when he
fell off.  He said it was obvious that Armand was crazy because he just
laughed and deliberately let go, plunging to his certain death.

Jeff later explained that Armand no doubt thought he would land on the
stage, a drop like that wouldn't harm him, confirming my suspicions.  It
was only because he miscalculated and hit the suspended pipe which caused
him to come down on the set, impaling him on the broken wooden framework of
the scenery that he died.  We were glad that his miscalculation ended as it
did.  If he landed on the stage and wasn't hurt, it would certainly
convince the assembled cast, crew and police that there was something
unearthly about all of this, causing possible problems for Jeff.  As it was
I wondered what the coroner was going to make of the remains.  And of
course this ending of Armand closed the books on the murder investigations
as well as protected anyone else he might have harmed in the future.  Jeff
was sure this was an attempt to lure him out the roof door and into a trap
set for him by Armand and his father.  When Armand didn't return and all
the police showed up, Jeff's father must have figured out something went
terribly wrong.  He wouldn't stick around to be exposed to any further
investigations.

"So it is all over?" I asked when we had a moment to ourselves.

"Father may not give up so easily, but I think we've certainly earned a
reprieve.  We'll just have to be a little careful in the future to see if
he comes back later, causing more trouble."

That didn't sound good to me, but at least for the moment the theater
company was safe.  The police seemed quite satisfied and even gave Harriet
permission to fix the broken set piece so the production could go on as
scheduled the next day.  It was almost midnight by the time the police were
finished with their investigations.  Harriet called Leon who promised to
have everything fixed and repainted before tomorrow night's performance.  I
told the cast to go home and relax.  We weren't going to finish our
rehearsal at that late hour.  There were several collective sighs and
expressions of gratitude.

Kelly came over and gave us a big hug before the three of us walked out
together.  She jumped in her station wagon and drove off, promising Jeff
she would stay alert and not get out of the car if she thought she was
being followed.  Then the two of us returned to Jeff's house.  He checked
the place over thoroughly, making sure there wasn't any chance that his
father was anywhere in the area.  Finally we were able to climb the stairs
and fall into bed, making love with a joyous abandon.

 

 

 

 

 

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